Multivitamins: How to Pick the Right Supplement
Skipping That Little Pill? Big Mistake
You don't head to the gym or out for a jog without prepping properly: sneakers, iPod, water bottle. But a multivitamin? Umm...Chances are, you don't pop one daily -- almost half of women under age 40 don't, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Big mistake, since more than 90 percent of women in their 20s, 30s, and 40s don't meet their vitamin and mineral requirements through diet alone -- and you need that multi even more if you exercise. "Vigorous workouts raise your body's vitamin and mineral requirements, so it's practically guaranteed that you won't get enough nutrients from food," says sports nutritionist Dawn Weatherwax-Fall, RD, coauthor of The Complete Idiot's Guide to Sports Nutrition. Here are surprising new reasons that a multi is a must -- along with how to find the best brand.Pick a Better Bottle
Drugstores carry more vitamins than nail-polish shades, but that doesn't mean you can pick just any old one. ConsumerLab.com recently found that more than half of the 21 multis they tested didn't contain the nutrient amounts listed on the label. Even worse, some capsules failed to release ingredients properly or were contaminated with toxic lead. So how do you choose? The highest-quality products tend to be store brands from major chains (Target, Wal-Mart, and Rite Aid) or big-name companies (One A Day, Vitamin World, Centrum, and Puritan's Pride). In addition, check the label for these three criteria:
- At least 600 IUs vitamin D. Don't settle for the 400 IUs in some multis. You need more of this supervitamin, which promotes strong bones, boosts immunity, regulates blood pressure and, in one study, was associated with a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer.
- 18 milligrams iron. Young women need this amount to make up for what they lose every month through menstruation, yet many multis have no iron at all because men and older women can get too much.
- 400 micrograms folic acid. Anything less than this daily dose may not be enough to help prevent birth defects.
No time to check labels? We asked Tod Cooperman, MD, president of ConsumerLab.com, for two multis you can trust: One A Day Women's and GNC Women's Ultra Mega.
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